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AG: Obamacare privacy rules lacking

2013-08-17T00:20:00Z AG: Obamacare privacy rules lackingBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
August 17, 2013 12:20 am  • 

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox and 12 other Republican attorneys general are raising concern about the security of personal data when people are assisted in signing up for subsidized health policies under “Obamacare” this fall.

The 13 attorneys general sent a letter this week to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, saying HHS rules to protect people’s privacy are “woefully inadequate.”

“The federal government’s lackadaisical approach to handling Americans’ private information doesn’t pass muster under any standard, and in particular Montana standards,” Fox said in a statement.

Sebelius said earlier this week that “navigators” hired to advise people how to sign up for the subsidized insurance policies are required to “adhere to strict security and privacy standards.”

The Montana Legislature this year also passed a law requiring navigators to undergo training, become certified by the state, and undergo criminal background checks.

When asked whether Fox thought the state law created adequate protections, Fox spokesman John Barnes said the federal government “bears the ultimate responsibility for protecting consumer privacy in Montana’s insurance exchange.”

The “exchange” is an Internet marketplace where consumers can shop for and buy private health-insurance policies starting Oct.1 – and, if they’re eligible, get federal subsidies to help pay for the policies.

Just this week, HHS awarded grants to scores of private, mostly nonprofit organizations nationwide to hire and train “navigators” whose job is to inform and advise the uninsured on using the exchange to buy health coverage.

In Montana, the grants went to Planned Parenthood of Montana, the Montana Primary Care Association and the Montana Health Network.

Lucas Hamilton, spokesman for state Auditor Monica Lindeen, said Friday her office will have a training protocol and certification procedure for navigators by Sept. 1.

“We’ll be doing all we can to make sure they have adequate training,” he said.

The AGs’ letter comes on the heels of comments from Republicans in Washington, D.C., earlier this week, alleging that citizens’ private information won’t be well-protected when they’re counseled about signing up for policies under the Affordable Care Act.

The seven-page letter outlined what it said are multiple problems with protection of consumers’ privacy.

It said HHS “has no realistic plan to prevent identity theft or to provide recourse to consumers when it inevitably occurs.”

“HHS must understand that it’s not enough to simply adopt vague policies against fraud,” Fox said. “Each person collecting information is being placed in a position of trust and will have access to a wide variety of personal information from consumers.”

An HHS spokesman said Friday that navigators will be trained on how to handle and safeguard consumers’ identifiable information, and subject to civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation if they violate privacy or security standards.

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. dietz1963
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    dietz1963 - August 22, 2013 1:55 pm
    Preaching to the choir steeline. Here's the deal, democrats balked at this during the Bush days. Then and now people are wanting his head on a platter. But then again, he is white and a republican. Obama is half black and a democrat, so that makes it ok. You are going to have to give this a rest. No one is going to critize Obama for things he does even if it is exactly like Bush did it for these reasons. No one wants to be called a racist and that is exactly what happens whenever anyone is critical of him. Political cartoonists that have protrayed Presidents as monkeys in the past. Doesn't happen with Obama cause its considered racist. Masks you can buy that have likeness of Presidents, you can wear anyone of a past President and have some fun, mocking as it were. Remember the ones of past Presidents such as Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton? Noticed what happened when a rodeo clown did this recently? Main stream news, people wanting this guys head on a platter and he's a clown for goodness sake. Calling him a racist. Know what I mean? It woujld ordinarily be called satire, but no. In fact, Washington Post reported this as an example of "racial divide" and CNN reported Missouri State Fair officials implimenting manditory "sensitivity" training for any future rodeo clowns? Seriously? And banned this clown for life?
  2. dietz1963
    Report Abuse
    dietz1963 - August 22, 2013 1:44 pm
    All medical records are being scanned in to be electronic by clinics/hospitals all around the nation right now. Not sure how privacy is being protected at all in any case under the law.
  3. MTanan
    Report Abuse
    MTanan - August 17, 2013 7:59 am
    I would feel their concern is genuine if they weren't all GOP Attorneys General. It's all partisan.
  4. steeline
    Report Abuse
    steeline - August 17, 2013 7:56 am
    Obama is "lacking". Nixon resigned over Watergate scandal, where he was "spying" on Democrats. Obama should be empeached over the illegal and unconstitutional spying he is doing on all Americans. What is good for the goose should be good for the gander. We have to get America back.
  5. LeaAnnT
    Report Abuse
    LeaAnnT - August 17, 2013 6:11 am
    Congress needs to STOP Obama care it is going to be a big breach of security on all personal data. What happened to HIPAA Law? Doesn't anyone care anymore. I already pay almost $400.00 a month from Social Security and retirement this doesn't include copays etc. What will happen on January 2014?

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